Skip to Content

Art Gallery of Ontario

Keyword Site Search

Art Matters Blog

Looking back on 2018

December 24th, 2018

We’ve had a remarkable year! Check out some of our most memorable moments from 2018.

1. We went to infinity and beyond

School visit to Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Room, All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, 2016.

Toronto went dotty this past spring when more than 169,000 visitors, big and small, joined us for Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors. Lines stretched around the block and we stayed open until midnight the last few weeks of the exhibition so as many people as possible could experience the immersive art of Yayoi Kusama, one of the world’s most important living artists. With spectacular Infinity Mirror Rooms, paintings, drawings and sculptures, there was so much love for this exhibition it even inspired a marriage proposal.

2. We presented a revealing look at our planet with Anthropocene

Edward Burtynsky: Phosphor Tailings Pond #4, Polk County, Florida, USA, 2012. Inkjet print, 58 ½ x 78 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto. © Edward Burtynsky, 2017.

Heralded by The Globe and Mail as “fiercely beautiful,” the exhibition Anthropocene (on now until January 6) is a celebrated collaboration between acclaimed Canadian artists Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. Featuring stunning large-scale photographs, murals, films and immersive augmented reality (AR) sculptures (including Big Lonely Doug), this powerful exhibition reveals the scale of human impact on the Earth. To complement the exhibition, we launched the podcast series Into the Anthropocene, named one of Apple’s top Canadian podcasts of 2018.

3. We honoured the legacy of Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitsiulak

Tim Pitsiulak, Qimaajuq Ukali (Running Rabbit), 2016. Stonecut, stencil, Overall: 53.8 × 71 cm. Courtesy of Dorset Fine Arts. © Estate of Tim Pitsiulak.

Our major summer exhibition Tunirrusiangit: Kenojuak Ashevak and Tim Pitsiulak presented over 100 works on paper, including striking images of birds and other real and imagined creatures by “the grandmother of Inuit art” Kenojuak Ashevak, and her nephew Tim Pitsiulak, one of the most sought-after contemporary Inuit artists in his lifetime. Curated by a team of Inuit artists, Tunirrusiangit received rave reviews and was the biggest exhibition of Inuit art ever at the AGO. To mark the exhibition’s opening, Inuit harvested seal was prepared and served in Walker Court for the first time in AGO history.

4. We celebrated a collaboration 25 years in the making and got powerful and poetic with Rebecca Belmore

The exhibition Mitchell/Riopelle: Nothing in Moderation offered fresh insights into the work of two powerhouses of abstract painting who shared their lives for 25 years: American Joan Mitchell and Canadian Jean Paul Riopelle.

We were moved by the powerful works in Rebecca Belmore: Facing the Monumental that highlighted critical issues, such as water and land rights, the legacy of residential schools, women’s lives and the role of the artist in contemporary life.

5. The McLean Centre got a new look and a new name

Rita Letendre. Daybreak, 1983. acrylic on canvas, 198 x 365.8 cm (77 15/16 x 144 in.). Gift of Dr. Michael J. Sole in honour of Rita Letendre and Kosso Eloul, 2006. © 2018 Rita Letendre 2006/168

July 1st marked the monumental re-opening of the newly renamed and revitalized J.S. McLean Centre for Indigenous & Canadian Art. With label texts in the Anishinaabemowin language, as well as English and French, the McLean Centre brings together more than 80 works from Indigenous and Canadian artists in galleries that highlight four themes: origin stories, how we construct our sense of self, issues of land and water, and how artists deal with questions of spirit and transformation.  Two installations by Canadian Maroon artist Winsom are currently on display in our focus galleries in the Centre.

6. We acquired spectacular art

Adrian Stimson, Old Sun, 2005. Steel, buffalo skin, sand, hanging lamp with glass shade. Height (approx.): 122 cm, plus hanging ceiling lamp, Base (approx.): 152.4 cm across. Purchased with funds donated by the Indigenous and Canadian Committee, 2018. © Adrian Stimson

The AGO Collection grew in exciting ways this year, with exciting additions from Canadian and international artists including 14 paintings by Ron Terada, Adrian Stimson’s installation Old Sun, a haunting painting by Leslie Reid, and a stunning engraving by 15th century luminary Martin Schongauer. Thanks to the generous donations of over 4,700 people and the David Yuile & Mary Elizabeth Hodgson Fund, Yayoi Kusama’s stunning artwork INFINITY MIRRORED ROOM – LET’S SURVIVE FOREVER is coming to the AGO this spring.

7. We led global conversations

AGO Creative Minds at Massey Hall

Inspired by the Rebecca Belmore: Facing the Monumental exhibition, we hosted aabaakwad a global Indigenous gathering that featured Belmore as well as Kent Monkman, Shelley Niro and more. In the spring, AGO Creative Minds speaker series brought to the stage international thought leaders including, author Salman Rushdie, filmmaker Charles Officer, artist Andrea Fraser and musician Iskwé for a lively discussion on Art and Truth. And this fall, environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal, artist Brian Jungen and author Tanya Talaga joined us for an urgent discussion on how art can inspire much-needed action on environmental issues.

8. We found out what lies beneath Picasso paintings

X-ray fluorescence instrument set up for the scan of La Miséreuse accroupie, with Sandra Webster-Cook (left) and Kenneth Brummel, both of the Art Gallery of Ontario. © Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO).

The AGO’s Sandra Webster-Cook, Senior Painting Conservator and Kenneth Brummel, Assistant Curator of Modern Art, along with researchers at the National Gallery of Art, Northwestern University and the Art Institute of Chicago, made headlines around the world this year with their cross-disciplinary discovery of underpaintings in two Picasso masterpieces in the AGO Collection. This riveting research project continues and will inform a Picasso exhibition at the AGO in 2020. We can’t wait!

9. Kids got creative

Image by the AGO.

We love kids and they love us! This year we welcomed a record-breaking number of families over March Break who helped us build a cardboard Space City in Walker Court with local artists Sean Martindale and Yvan Mackinnon. We also expanded our year-round course offerings for kids and young people. And to inspire budding artists of all ages to get creative, we opened our new Mindful Makers art-making space.

10. We hosted Toronto’s biggest art parties

Attendees at Massive Illusion. Image by the AGO.

Seeing was believing at the AGO fundraiser, Massive Illusion in April. With contemporary art installations creating mind-bending illusions with mirrors, light and colour, the event raised funds to welcome more art lovers to the AGO. Art Bash brought the eccentric spirit of the Marchesa Luisa Casati to life and raised funds to support AGO exhibitions and programs. And Toronto’s biggest art party, First Thursdays, got visitors moving and grooving all year with themed parties including Soul Train, Pride Toronto, Anthropocene and more.

Thank you for subscribing to the AGOinsider every week. See you in 2019!

Comments are closed.